Raptors have brightest future in NBA.. After 27 other teams – ESPN

Posted: December 17, 2010 in basketball, Sports

Taken from my piece on Raptors Watch

Are the Young Onez not good enough to make an impact on the future?

The ESPN gurus have spoken once again.

Chad Ford and John Hollinger have ranked all 30 teams in the NBA, based on how bright of a future they have in the next 3 seasons. The Raptors were ranked 30th; and here’s their reasoning behind it:

The team has some young talent in Andrea Bargnani, DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis, Jerryd Bayless and Amir Johnson. However, we remain unconvinced that any of them will blossom to become the type of player that propels the Raptors back into contention. Thus, we’ve ranked them near the bottom in the players category.

We’ve also grown more cynical about the management of the team. It now appears that the Raptors are for sale, meaning their future is even more in doubt. We’re also struggling to see GM Bryan Colangelo’s long-term plan with the team. The offensive talent is there, but the Raptors remain a mess on defense and, despite a flurry of moves, seem to be stuck in neutral at the bottom of the East.

Before I go into analyzing their assessment of the Raptors, you might be baffled to know where some of the other teams ranked.

The ageing San Antonio Spurs are ranked 8th. A team that will have three of their main stars well into their 30′s in three years time.

If there’s a team that’s ageing even more-so than the Spurs, it’s the Celtics. Their only legit young piece is Rajon Rondo; yet they’re ranked 14th.

Kobe’s Lakers are ranked 3rd. I suppose this ranking is highly dependant on if Kobe (32) can continue playing at a high level.

Even more mystifying are the teams that ranked 12 and 13. New Jersey is ranked as high as 12th. They’re a team that rely on Devin Harris (OK, makes sense), Brook Lopez, and Anthony Morrow – who hasn’t shown any more promise than Derozan, Ed Davis, Amir Johnson, or Jerryd Bayless. Add to that: the fact that New Jersey isn’t in a significantly better position to get a higher draft pick than the Raptors.

Portland is ranked at 13th – which to me, is an ignoramus assessment. Yes – Portland is a young team; but the fact is that they’ve built their team around Brandon Roy, whose days as an elite NBA player are all but a sweet memory. Beyond question, Portland won’t be the same without his presence, and it’s really sad to see a stud like Brandon Roy have his career dwindle down due to health concerns. I’m a big fan of his game, and he’s a really classy guy both on and off the court.

Now, you’d be surprised to know while the rankings of other teams are open to debate, ESPN’s assessment of the Raptors is somewhat accurate – as much as Raps fans might hate to acquiesce to it. They could be higher than Detroit (25) and Philadelphia (24) – as neither of those teams are in a better situation than the Raptors – but overall, the Raps have no guarantee of having success in the next few years, and that probably won’t change unless the Raptors can acquire a superstar, either through trade or through the draft.

Yes, the Raptors have talent. Davis, Demar, Weems, Bayless, Andrea – these guys have upside, but they need a superstar to mesh their talents all together. Currently, the only player that wouldn’t be a 6th man on any other team is Andrea. Ed Davis has shown signs that he could, in a couple of years, develop into a Jermaine O’neal type of player; but that remains to be seen. He needs to bulk up first. Sonny Weems looks like he’ll be an inconsistent player all his life, but Demar and Bayless have the potential to be solid starters in the NBA.

As for the franchise being sold – it’s a bit nonsensicle to think this would affect the franchise in a negative way. Someone needs to tell them down at ESPN that even if the franchise does get sold to Rogers Communications (the most likely buyer if it happens), this will not make the franchise any worse than it is. The vision of each and every candidate is to make this organization grow and improve. Adding to that, this franchise has zero chance of relocating to another city.

To encapsulate this post, I would say despite their blemish about the possibility of the franchise being sold (research is your friend, ESPN), and the aberrant ranking of other teams; the actual ranking regarding the Raptors seems fair. Although I would have had them ranked a bit higher, as they have a talented team – more-so than some of the other teams ranked above them – and they have a solid chance at obtaining a high draft pick.

Adding to that, if Andrea can develop into an All-Star, and Ed Davis bulks up in to JO – accompanied by drafting a star, this assessment changes dramatically.


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